History of Chocolatto® Best Thick Italian Hot Chocolate


Silver Chocolate pot, France, 1779.[3] Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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An early Classic (460-480 AD) period Mayan tomb from the site of Rio Azul, Guatemala, had vessels with the Maya glyph for cacao on them with residue of a chocolate drink.[4] [5]

To make the chocolate drink, which was served cold, the Maya ground cocoa seeds into a paste, and mixed it with watercornmealchilli peppers and other ingredients.[4] They then poured the drink back and forth from a cup to a pot until a thick foam developed. Chocolate was available to Maya of all social classes, although the wealthy drank chocolate from elaborately decorated vessels.[6]

What the Spaniards then called "chocolatl" was said to be a beverage consisting of a chocolate base flavored with vanilla and other spices that was served cold.[7][8] Montezuma's court reportedly drank about 2,000 cups ofxocolatl per day, 50 of which were consumed by Montezuma himself.[6]

Because sugar was yet to come to the Americas,[4] xocolatl was said to be an acquired taste. The drink tasted spicy and bitter, unlike modern hot chocolate, which is typically sweet.[4] As to when xocolatl was first served hot, sources conflict on when and by whom.[4][8] However, Jose de Acosta, a Spanish Jesuit missionary who lived in Peru and then Mexico in the later 16th century, described xocolatl as:

Loathsome to such as are not acquainted with it, having a scum or froth that is very unpleasant taste. Yet it is a drink very much esteemed among the Indians, where with they feast noble men who pass through their country. The Spaniards, both men and women, that are accustomed to the country, are very greedy of this Chocolate. They say they make diverse sorts of it, some hot, some cold, and some temperate, and put therein much of that "chili"; yea, they make paste thereof, the which they say is good for the stomach and against the catarrh.[9]

European adaptation

Chocolate cup, Chantilly porcelain, 18th century.

After defeating Montezuma's warriors, and demanding that the Aztec nobles hand over their valuables, Cortés returned to Spain in 1528, bringing cocoa beans and chocolate drink making equipment.[10] At this time, chocolate still only existed in the bitter drink invented by the Mayans.[4] Sweet hot chocolate and bar chocolate were yet to be invented.

After its introduction to Europe, the drink slowly gained popularity. The court of King Charles V soon adopted the drink, and what was then only known as "chocolate" became a fashionable drink popular with the Spanishupper class. Additionally, cocoa was given as a dowry when members of the Spanish Royal Family married other European aristocrats.[11] At the time, chocolate was very expensive in Europe because the cacao beans only grew in South America.[12]

Sweet-tasting hot chocolate was then invented, leading hot chocolate to become a luxury item among the European nobility by the 17th century.[6] Even when the first Chocolate House (an establishment similar to a modern coffee shop)[4] opened in 1657, chocolate was still very expensive, costing 50 to 75 pence (approximately 10-15 shillings) a pound.[13]

In the late 17th century, Hans Sloane, president of the Royal College of Physicians, visited Jamaica. There, he tried chocolate and considered it "nauseous", but found it became more palatable when mixed with milk.[14]When he returned to England, he brought the recipe with him, introducing milk chocolate to Europe.[14]

In 1828, Coenraad Johannes van Houten developed the first cocoa powder producing machine in the Netherlands.[4][15] The press separated the greasy cocoa butter from cacao seeds, leaving a purer and less fattening chocolate powder behind.[4] This powder—much like the instant cocoa powder used today—was easier to stir into milk and water, and led to another very important discovery: solid chocolate. By using cocoa powder and low amounts of cocoa butter, bar chocolate was then possible to manufacture. The term "chocolate" then came to mean solid chocolate, rather than hot chocolate.


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